MicroSD Express format brings blazing-fast data transfer speeds to devices

At Mobile World Congress, the SD Association announced the new MicroSD Express format, promising blazing-fast data transfer rates when paired up in phones, cameras, and other compatible devices. Memory cards with the new format depend on the faster PCIe and NVMe interfaces found in SSDs and can deliver speeds of up to 985 megabytes per second.

MicroSD storage has always been considered slower than the traditional internal storage found on board modern devices, but the new MicroSD Express standard changes that. As the best example, Western Digital announced the 1TB SanDisk Extreme UHS-I microSDXC card during Mobile World Congress. The card only manages to record data at a speed of 160 megabytes per second, not coming close to the 985 megabytes per second speeds of MicroSD Express.

The new MicroSD Express cards not only will be much faster but also will need less energy than traditional MicroSD memory cards, while keeping the same maximum consumed power. It will be backward compatible with legacy MicroSD interfaces and will be found in a variety of formats, including MicroSDHC Express, MicroSDXC Express, and MicroSDUC Express. This all means you can still use MicroSD Express cards on older devices, but with slower speeds.

“NVMe is the industry-recognized performance SSD interface from the client to the data center to mobile, shipping in millions of units,” said Amber Huffman, NVM Express Inc. president. “By SDA adopting NVMe technology into the new MicroSD Express cards, users can experience lower latency and increasingly fast transfer speeds across various applications.”

According to the SD Association, the new MicroSD Express standard will also offer system developers new options coming with the PCIe and NVMe capabilities. These include bus mastering, multi-queue (without locking mechanism) and host memory buffer. Since this means MicroSD Express cards won’t have to communicate by tasking the CPU, it holds a huge potential in gaming systems, multi-channel IoT devices, higher resolution mobile videos, action cameras, and virtual reality.

“MicroSD Express gives the mobile industry a compelling new choice to equip mobile devices with removable SSDs,” said Hiroyuki Sakamoto, SDA president. “SD 7.1 prepares consumers and mobile device manufacturers to meet ever-increasing storage demands for years to come.”

No word yet on when manufacturers will start making memory cards with the new format.

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